“Relatively.” There was vulnerability in admitting to too much inexperience in a place like this, which outweighed politeness.
“Last few days?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lalia admitted softly. She didn’t need the red wristband on the other woman’s wrist to tell her which side of things she was on. She’d known that from watching the way she interacted with a few others across the room, before her eyes had found Lalia’s and she’d smiled in intrigue, made her way over. Watching, and the environment of Temptation as a slightly unusual BDSM club, told her she’d take the ma’am well.
“Found any excitement?”
That wasn’t quite what she was looking for. Not that she was likely to find what she was looking for here. But that took too long to explain. “I intended to mostly watch. Get a feel for things.”
“Do you—” come here often was too cliched and not intended but was almost what came out “—frequent here?” That was worse.
“You could say that. Not the sort of place for my main interests, but one can dream.” Her eyes ran over Lalia. “You seem out of place, yourself.”
Lalia flushed a little. She probably did. “I don’t think this is the sort of place for my main interests, either.”
“But? Why are you here?”
“One can dream,” she murmured.
The other woman smiled, held out her hand. “I’m Ezri.”
“Lalia,” she said, and shook her hand.
Ezri’s eyes, blue and behind oval glasses, followed the way her hand returned behind her back afterwards. “How old are you?”
“Thank you, ma’am.” She offered a little bow of her head, wispy blonde—almost strawberry blonde—strands falling into her eyes. She became aware Ezri was a little older than the seemingly median ages here. Wondered if that congratulations was dryer than it had sounded.
“You have other education.” No—that was dry. “You’re trained. But I don’t see a collar.”
“I'm... not. In this.”
“What have you been trained in?”
“Just college.” It sounded stupid when she said it, but Ezri laughed, and Lalia found she liked the sound.
“Then tell me,” said Ezri, “where you got that very specific posture. The natural sounding use of titles. And the neck bow.”
Lalia flushed again. “I… read.”
“You read,” Ezri repeated back to her. That was dry, too. Her statement deserved it.
Ezri laughed again. “Frankly, I think the ability to read might be what makes you seem out of place.”
Lalia smiled slowly.
“But you’ve also practiced.”
“You haven’t been in such a relationship before?”
“No, ma’am.” Surprised, a little, at the incredulousness. Flattered, maybe. “I read. I practice subtly, or alone, or here, or somewhere like it.”
“And what are those main interests that aren’t best suited to here?” Ezri asked her.
“Primarily service. Bits of protocol. Perhaps obviously.”
Ezri smiled. “We should find a better place to talk.” She turned and clearly expected Lalia to follow her, perhaps a fair expectation. She retrieved a bag left near the people she’d been talking to, earning a raised eyebrow from at least one friend, though she didn’t return an explanation. Lalia didn’t either, silent, not sure what she would say if she did.
Ezri headed down the stairs. “It’s quieter down here.” There were private rooms here, but usually used for play. Sounds echoed in the hallway, but were more distant with a door to one of those rooms closed behind them. Ezri set the bag near the door. Lalia set her own there, too. “So, you’re not trained, you have no experience, you’ve only been around here for a few days, and you heel perfectly. You’re not trained in submission, maybe, but to have a skill that's based on someone else's moving—you couldn't have practiced that—you’re trained in, what, something like mindfulness. Possibly self trained, but trained nonetheless.”
“Y-yes, ma’am.” She froze at the evaluation for a moment, then mumbled, “Self trained,” in confirmation.
“For roughly this purpose?”
“Yes. … Ma’am.”
“No yellow wristband in you?” Yellow for Switch.
Lalia stiffened, caught off guard, and said, “No. Ma’am.”
Ezri laughed a little. “Relax, sweetheart. I’m not interested in pushing you out of your role.”
Normally the endearment would’ve been another red flag—though in return for the ma’am it felt more fair—and as a counter to the previous question, it set her at ease with odd effectiveness. “Why?” she asked, and elaborated, “I don’t sense much yellow wristband in you either. Not to assume.”
Ezri smiled. “No, I daresay I keep to one side of the slash myself. I wondered… it might've been wrong to say yellow wristband. More of… a majordomo side, given the self training and the service managing training can be.”
“I haven’t… thought about it much.” She frowned. “It would be… a rare long term scenario, from what I’ve seen?”
“Yes,” said Ezri, eyes running over her. “Just curious.” She changed the subject, or tried. “You just graduated. What was your major?”
Lalia bit her lip. “Education. And psychology. Double majored.”
Ezri laughed, the irony not lost on her. “You want to be a teacher?”
“That or social work. Keeping options open.”
“You like kids?”
“Not really the idea of my own. Just… I dunno. I think a lot about the teenagers who slip through the cracks. Like the ones who get abused or kicked out for being gay or trans or—” she gestured around the room as if at the concept of Temptation, then shrugged. "Doing something for them. Being one of the ‘okay’ adults.”
“Noble. And what are you?”
Lalia laughed. “What…?”
Ezri’s turn to shrug. “Gender. Sexuality. The sometimes more vanilla side of roles.”
Lalia shrugged back. “Mostly into women? Femme traits? Personality? I’m flexible? I don’t really care what’s in anyone’s pants. There could be a guy, one day.”
“‘Could be a guy’. Theoretically. Somewhere. Existing. A person, being male.”
“Yes,” Lalia smiled. “I believe that one could exist.” She remembered the other half of the question. “I’m not. I’m. A girl. Cis. Never questioned that part.”
“And how did your… adults, take all that?” She’d guessed, given the softer tone, though it was still a question, not a prodding statement.
“Not very well.” She laughed, nervous. “Let’s just say I put myself through college. Nothing… extreme.”
“Anyone else around? Family? Friends? More?” Seeing Lalia’s expression, added, “Pets? Goldfish?” lightly.
“Friends,” Lalia shrugged vaguely. Acquaintances. She’d been so buried in school and working to pay for school for so long—but she didn’t want to be screaming no one will come looking for me if you take me hostage or something. “No goldfish now. My sister has a dog."
“So you have a sister?”
Lalia laughed. “Oh. Yeah. It’s… been a while. Last I heard, she’d be going as far west for college as she could get right around now.”
Ezri didn’t press further.
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
Ezri smiled. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrogate you without giving you any answers back. I’m forty-one; I've been in the scene basically since it was legal. I have some family a little farther north but here, friends. Nothing more than that, as much as they like to drag me here hoping that will change. I have owned no goldfish and agree there could be a man out there but don’t care much if there is. I used to be one, but gender is fake anyway.”
Lalia laughed. “Really, no goldfish?" seemed a light enough response. Forty-one was on the younger end of where she would've placed her, but not out of range. Something about the tallness and chin length hair and navy button down with black jeans seemed telling now.
“I know, I don’t meet many high school graduates who haven’t owned a goldfish yet.”
“Even I had one. Around fourth grade. The dog ate it. That was about as exciting as it got.”
“There you go,” said Ezri. Pause. “So, your interests aren’t suited here. You mentioned long term scenarios?”
“Well, my interests being better suited to that. 24/7 being most appealing.”
Lalia looked puzzled.
“Live in? Live out? Keeping those career goals? Or no?”
“Live in ideally. I could definitely stick to service as a career, financials allowing, if it were that involved.”
“Age limits on your interest?”
Lalia shrugged. “Very much about the person.”
“I’d want… I’m flexible. If poly, as a primary. I don’t think I’d be seeing more than one person, maybe a Dom-Dom couple or something.”
“You say Dom. Do you identify with sub or slave?”
“Technically slave. Based on how I look at it so far.”
“How do you look at it?”
“Based on what most people would just call CNC I guess. TPE. All areas. 24/7. No safewords, no limits, no way out.” Pause. “Not on day one."
Ezri laughed. “I would hope not.”
"I get the sense it's not a popular opinion.”
“Sadly, no. But that’s all about where I’m at. I’d have an opposition to strict monogamy, but I think I’m emotionally monogamous or close. Sorry. I was interrogating you again.”
"That's okay." Lalia's heart was beating a little faster. “Your friends drag you here?”
“Well, I let them, to be fair. Their interests suit here better than mine. But I’m not opposed to some of that. It’s just… much further from all of it, for me.”
“Hmm,” and a nod.
“I understand that,” Lalia murmured.
“But since we’re here… would you like to?”
“Hmm,” and a nod again.
“What… are your interests there?”
“Oh, I’m flexible. Bit of everything. No sex for now, not without testing paperwork and proof of birth control. I brought a small variety of things.” Compared to Lalia’s bag, it couldn’t have been that small. “Mostly impact or electric. Restraints to go with either.”
“Hmm.” Electric was tempting, something she hadn’t played with much—twice, barely more than testing it, with the same relative novice, a long time ago. A probably less frequent first offer. She’d done a lot more with impact comparatively and it was easier to find, but it had been a long time since she’d gotten that, too, and that was something she frequently ached for when it wasn’t something more involved than that, or just sex or even just touching. Bit her lip. “What did you bring for impact?”
Ezri retrieved her bag and just about emptied it onto the bed, sparsely made, with clearly waterproof linens, opportunities for restraints.
Ezri did a quick re-sorting of the items. “Primarily canes, paddles, floggers, a belt.”
“All sounds good to me,” said Lalia, and it was supposed to sound like a joke, and it came out a little too soft and awed. But it was true.
Ezri smiled. “Nothing you’d like to take out from this selection?”
Lalia forced herself to do a more detailed scan. Shook her head. “No, ma’am.”
“Very well. Restraints, or no? I should ask first—what positions you like.”
“I’m open to options…” Trailing off, eyes running over those implements again, potentials. “I’ve never really done much OTK. I’d like to. If you would be interested.” She was feeling brave, apparently, proposing that. She did want it and it wasn’t the position that scared her but the vulnerability of the request.
“We can do that. If you’d like the floggers and the longer canes, though, we’d need at least one other."
Lalia did like the thought of the floggers. Thought.
“The floggers make a good warmup, if you’d want to start bent over the bed with those, and then move to OTK and the other implements later. You’d still have one of the canes. Maybe the same for cooldown, depending on how it goes.”
Lalia nodded. “Good plan.”
“I'd guess mostly waist down area impact?”
Lalia nodded again.
“Limits I should know about, assuming I roughly stick to what we talk about?”
Lalia shrugged. “Nothing I think we’ll run into.”
“Any medical things I should know?”
“Very mild asthma. I have an inhaler, in my bag, if it comes to that. It hasn’t been an issue before. You?”
Ezri shook her head, barely displacing her fluffy brown bob that fell to her chin. “Aftercare?”
“Nothing critical. I mean, it might… be nice to just… talk. Like… about anything. Maybe nice things. I… dunno.”
“Basically.” She wasn’t sure that was how she was meant to respond, but Ezri got the idea. “Like… touching is nice, I guess. Something still kind of… headspacey? Like not… not too… egalitarian.”
“More like you have your head in my lap and I stroke your hair than we curl up next to each other.”
“Exactly.” Surprised that Ezri had gotten that so clearly out of her stammering. “If there’s anything you want…”
“I think I’ll be fine with that. Few s-types ask.”
“They should,” Lalia said.
“They should,” Ezri agreed. “Backtracking—restraints?”
Lalia bit her lip. “In general, yes. I kind of… I kind of like just having to keep still enough. Like, being told to do that.”
“Hmm,” said Ezri, thoughtful, then smiled. “I like that idea. I would imagine… things like counting and all that might appeal to you.”
“Yes,” said Lalia, slightly breathy. “Ma’am.”
“Level of dressed or undressed?”
“Anything else you’d like to cover?”
Lalia shook her head. “Not in particular.”
Ezri took her hand and guided her to the side of the bed, let go and gave her a slight push so she was bent over the bed, her hands on it. “Hmm.” She guided Lalia by the wrists to lean her torso against the bed, hands in front of her. “Better.”
Lalia’s breathing quickened as Ezri picked up one of the light floggers and returned, ran it down Lalia’s back, up her thighs. Pulled her dress up, gray fabric bunching, her panties down, and caressed her skin with the tails before starting with light taps, light swings, that didn’t hurt, just felt nice, provided the slightest bit of sting. A little harder. Maybe every five strokes, one came much harder than the others, but still light overall. More. They were starting to build up. A bit of heat in her skin. Her breathing came shakier and she ached for more, more, more—but Ezri was taking her time. Fair.
She picked up another flogger, which provided a sharper sting, a new sensation, a lighter sounding thwap and hit her a bit harder with it, the one-every-five-strokes harder strikes coming much harder. Pause. Absent petting down her back with the flogger, up her thighs. “One to ten? One being you feel no pain, ten being red?”
“Three,” said Lalia softly.
Ezri continued. Switched back to the other flogger soon, and while it didn’t sting as much it came harder this time. Enough she jumped at those pointedly harder strikes and gasped at even some well placed softer ones.
Still, she whimpered when Ezri stopped, petting her with it again. “More of this? Or would you like to be over my knee now?”
Oh… “I’d like that,” she murmured, realizing that wasn’t terribly coherent but Ezri interpreted correctly. Guided her upright by the shoulder, and sat on the bed herself.
The simple expectation of obedience in her voice was intoxicating in itself. Lalia draped herself over her lap, trying to wriggle helpfully into a better position as Ezri shifted, placed a leg over hers, her hand on her lower back, brushing her dress back out of the way.
When Ezri hit her this time it was with her hand. Something they hadn’t quite talked about but Lalia was glad was assumed. She’d always liked hand spankings. Something intimate about it, if the sensation left a bit more to be desired. The sting of it was more intense on her thighs, and able to come more rapid fire than the flogger.
Ezri selected a spot on her right thigh and hit it again and again, hard, until Lalia whimpered and squirmed. Ezri’s hand at her back was firm. “Still,” she reminded her as her wriggling increased. Her body took the order before her mind had processed it, and even then her thoughts seemed quieter, slower.
Soon, Ezri shifted to pick up an implement Lalia couldn’t—and didn’t try to—twist and see. It felt like a paddle resting against her, the wood cool on her skin for now. Tapping. Harder. Crack.
She jumped. One of her hands had started to move defensively but hadn’t quite gotten there. Ezri continued. The strikes came slightly slower but harder—or maybe that was just the implement, a much heavier impact. Thuddier than anything else yet. Whimpers fell from her lips unbidden.
“One to ten?” Ezri asked her, pausing, running the paddle over her thighs. Much warmer now.
Lalia bit her lip. Her hair almost fell in her mouth and she regretted not putting it up, that moment of thinking it would be more appealing down. “Six.”
“Do you want to go higher, or lower?”
“Higher.” That was easier than thinking of numbers. More.
“What’s the highest you want to go?”
Hard to define. She didn’t want to play to a safeword right now. Nor get too close. “Eight and a half,” she murmured, and having mentioned halves she said, “Maybe nine.” Not nine and a half. Not at that brink. But close. Ezri could’ve talked her into ten easily and she knew it and knew it probably shouldn’t have been so true.
“Tell me when you’re at a solid eight,” Ezri told her.
Ezri set the paddle aside and picked up something else. Cane. Not wood, probably one of the materials Lalia hadn’t been able to identify on sight.
It stung. It was much quieter than the paddle but having such a small target area increased its intensity. The swish was what indicated a harder strike more than the impact itself, and her muscles knew it, tensing based on it. Slow. Getting gradually harder, then back to the softest. Back up again... The pattern was divine. She sighed shakily. She could do this forever.
It took a few repetitions for her to realize it wasn’t quite going back to the softest strike. Perhaps the second softest from the immediately previous set. Building up on her sore skin. “Mmph.” Wriggling, stopping herself, Ezri’s leg actually holding hers down. “Ah!” The hardest one yet. She whimpered and flailed when the next one, if softer, came quickly.
Ezri’s hand pressed at her back. Pause. “Deep breath.”
Lalia took one in, had just started to release it when the cane hit her again, much harder, and jumped and lost the air all at once.
The cane didn’t come again.
Pause. Panting. The awareness of sweating. A second paddle rested against her. Not the first one. The cool wood again on her hot skin. When Ezri pressed it into her, making her gasp as it pushed into the marks, she felt that it was the one with holes in it.
Ezri started with it lightly, but rapidly amped up. This stung much more than the other paddle but was still less concentrated than the cane. Lalia panted and whimpered and gasped and squirmed, but not too much. “Eight!” she gasped after the latest and hardest strike.
Ezri gave her one more and paused. She set the implement aside and ran her hand over what would probably be bruises and weals later. Felt Lalia relax a little, the weight in her lap shifting. She took pain decently and marked better. Ezri would want to see those marks later, if Lalia was at all willing. She was much paler than Ezri, sparse light freckles, and the forming bruises showed nicely. “I’ll give you a choice,” she murmured, stroking her. “I can give you a little bit more like this, with the belt, and then cool down with the floggers like how we started. Or, we can finish with the belt, and try to finish with you at that nine. Either way you’re going to count them.”
Lalia shuddered under her touch.
“Whichever one you’d like.”
Lalia whimpered. She liked the idea of being pushed further. In theory. But it scared her a little. The flogger cooldown was a safe choice. But a bit boring. Ezri had opened with the idea of the floggers and so the belt offer was… new. Based on…? Maybe Ezri thought she would like it. Could take it. Wanted to try it herself. She had to find out.
“Finish with the belt,” she whispered. “Please. Ma’am.”
“Very well.” The belt, oddly sturdy even for being folded in half, brushed her skin. Just that much touch hurt right now, a little. Ezri’s voice was deceptively soft. “I’m going to give you five. After each stroke, you’re going to count it and thank me for it. After the five, you’re going to tell me if you want another five. Understood?”
Ezri hit her, hard. Lalia gasped, her hands clenching into fists, body tensing. “One,” she whispered, on a shaky exhale. “Thank you, ma’am.”
Again. A little choked sound fell from her lips. “Two,” she got out, panting. “Th-thank… thank you, ma’am.”
Another. A sob found its way out. “Three,” she said through clenched teeth. Felt tears on her cheeks. Another sob like noise. Trying to get in a good breath before accepting the next with, “Thank you, ma’am.”
Ezri gave her one more moment. One more stroke. “Four.” The word was a whimper. Almost there. Yet part of her loved this feeling of helplessness. She sniffled. “Thank you, ma’am.”
One more stroke. The quiet sobs escaped properly. More tears. “Five. Thank you, ma’am.” The words came easier when they didn’t delay anything.
Ezri rubbed her back. “I would guess you don’t want another five,” she said lightly.
Lalia laughed, though it came out through crying, and shook her head. The belt withdrew from her senses. Ezri’s other hand running over her thighs, soothing. “Breathe, sweetheart. You can stay there as long as you like.”
It was more comfortable than it should have been, physically and emotionally, to stay there. Catch her breath. Let Ezri caress her bruising skin. She sighed and relaxed against her. Finally made herself slide back off of her lap, on her knees on the floor. Inhaled sharply as her heels hit the bruises.
“Water?” Ezri offered.
“Please.” Her throat was so dry, she cleared it after she said the word. Ezri brought her some, a sealed bottle she opened for her. “Thank you.” She took it with shaking hands, took a few sips and sighed. Closed it and set it down. Ezri offered her tissues, which she took too, and then sat on the bed again, pulled Lalia’s head into her lap and stroked her hair. Repetitive, comforting, like the feeling of the bruises was now, the feeling of being on the floor at Ezri’s feet. “That was… that was nice,” she said.
“I agree,” said Ezri. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. We should talk more.”
Lalia nodded, though her thoughts still felt fuzzy. “When I have words,” she mumbled.
“Yes,” Ezri smiled. “Later.”